When I say that shrubs are my new obsession, I’m not talking about the garden variety shrub…
A shrub (of the drinking variety) is a concentrated syrup of sugar, fruit and vinegar that is most often based on apple cider vinegar. These delicious tart little syrups add brightness, sweetness and acidity to cocktails (traditional or non alcoholic) and therefore have become increasingly popular with bartenders.
In Sonoma County and the North Bay in particular, shrubs have been embraced as a must-have behind the best bars—partially due to the prevalence of apples here. However, there are also a handful of small farms and businesses that make their own apple juice based products and have started crafting their own lines of flavored shrubs.
Little Apple Treats, for example, a business started by local Sebastopol apple farmers, makes a line of insanely delicious naturally flavored apple cider shrubs with flavors ranging from Blood Orange-Meyer Lemon and Ginger-Hibiscus to Blackberry-Lemonade. Gold Ridge Farms also makes a yummy Gravenstein-Fuji apple cider vinegar shrub, made from their organically farmed apples.
Griffo Distillery in Petaluma uses flavored apple cider vinegar shrubs from Little Apple Treats in some of their signature cocktails. The distillery also sells a selection of Little Apple Treats shrubs in their shop. Ellen Cavalli at Tilted Shed Cider makes her own shrubs with apple cider vinegar made from apples grown on her farm and serves low alcohol cider shrub spritzers at the cidery’s Windsor tasting room.
The Fern Bar in Sebastopol makes their own flavored shrubs from local apple cider vinegars and keeps these behind the bar to use in cocktails. While over at The Barlow in Sebastopol, Golden State Cider serves up cider-apple brandy spritzers made with Little Apple Treats shrubs at their taproom, and Spiritworks serves shrub cocktails as well as includes Little Apple Treats shrubs in the cocktail kit that they sell there.
Try a shrub spritzer or cocktail (though the beverages won’t typically be called shrub spritzers or cocktails on the menu—these spots use shrubs in some of their drinks) at local taprooms or bars including Fern Bar (Sebastopol), Griffo Distillery (Petaluma), Tilted Shed Cider (Windsor), and places that serve nonalcoholic or low ABV cocktails, including cider taprooms and tasting rooms such as Golden State Cider (which serves an apple brandy and shrub cocktail) and Tilted Shed Cider.
Or, mix up a refreshing shrub-ade at home, with this Shrub Refresher recipe from Little Apple Treats.
Shrub Refresher Recipe
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (6-8 lemons)
1/2 cup Little Apple Treats shrub of your choice (I personally LOVE the Ginger Limeade and Hibiscus )
4 cups water
Simple syrup (above)
Extra slices of lemon for the pitcher
Mix the simple syrup, lemon juice, shrub, optional vodka and water together. Stir and taste, adding more lemon juice or shrub if it’s not tart enough for you. Add ice and sliced lemons. Stir one more time and serve.